SRU continues mitigation efforts as pandemic persists

On-campus resident move-in delayed two weeks, new COVID-19 testing implemented

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With the pandemic continuing into the spring 2021 semester, on-campus living protocols remain the same with a few additions, like new COVID-19 testing protocols.

SRU President William Behre notified SRU stakeholders via email on Dec. 18 that move-in dates for on-campus residents would be delayed. Students received a refund of 13% for housing and dining charges because of the two-week delay in moving back to campus.

The Office of Housing and Residence Life notified students to sign up for a move-in time on Jan. 13 via email. Residents are set to move in on the weekend of Jan. 29.

The office also advised in an email Thursday to follow the United States Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s directive. These guidelines say students that are traveling into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must be tested 72 hours prior to entering or quarantine for 10 days after arrival. 

SRU will implement free saliva-based PCR COVID-19 testing by the mid-February. The university will be setting up a testing center at the Student Union. They hired Jennifer Stoepfel, a nurse practitioner, as its testing coordinator. 

Testing was available at the Student Health Center and local testing facilities during the fall 2020 semester, but this semester will provide free COVID-19 testing for the campus community. 

Kristina Benkeser, director of student health services, said Slippery Rock partnered with Shippensburg University to use their lab facilities. Their lab is expected to get test results back within 24 to 36 hours. 

“Until we can get a large number of students vaccinated, the next best thing is trying to prevent big outbreaks and rapid spread,” Benkeser said. 

SRU implemented a new residential guest policy for the semester. Residents can have one on-campus residential guest at a time during the visitation hours of 7:45 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. The desk staff will confirm that the visitor is an on-campus resident.

On-campus residential visitors will be required to leave their student ID card at the front desk. They will denote which room the visitor will be in. Visitors must follow all guest policies and procedures.

Residential hall staff will ensure that all visitors have left the buildings by 11:15 p.m. each night and that they have been given back their student ID. 

As for next semester, Director of Residence Life Patrick Beswick projects there to be more on-campus residents in the fall 2021 semester. He said there are currently about 700 students living on campus. 

“We should have a greater enrollment in the halls by the time the vaccine should be out,” Beswick said. “[The vaccine] should be more widely available, and encouraging a return to normalcy because of that vaccine would be the goal.” 

Beswick said North and Rhoads Halls will be open as well, but at limited capacity. 

Behre hopes to have “more face-to-face experiences” next semester. He said using plexiglass barriers between science lab stations is just one example of mitigation efforts that will allow more people to be in one space. 

“We are ordering air ionizers that can be put in spaces and purify the air,” Behre said. “So we are doing everything we can to be much more face-to-face [in the fall].” 

On-campus activities during the spring 2021 semester are permitted in both virtual and in-person formats, and additional information can be found on CORE.

Face masks and facial coverings are still required on campus at all times unless a student is “working alone” or eating or drinking. 

Students can find more information about on-campus living during the COVID-19 pandemic on the COVID-19 page of the SRU website. Keep up to date on campus COVID-19 cases on the SRU website.

Nina is a sophomore majoring in communication: converged journalism. She has aspired to become a journalist for the New York Times for as long as she can remember. During high school, she was on her school's newspaper staff freshman to senior year. She was also the editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper during her senior year. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music and watching YouTube and Netflix. She is elated to be The Rocket's news editor, and she can't wait to see what SRU and The Rocket have in store for her.

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